Thursday, September 5, 2019

Protecting Your Family

The rescue of Lot and his family in Genesis chapter 19 is very instructive. Lot chose to live in Sodom, an evil city but also very prosperous. He had mixed feelings about living in this place with the evil around him, but he and his family enjoyed the comforts of Sodom too much to leave it. God chose to destroy the city of Sodom for its wickedness. Abraham interceded for the city and received an answer from God that the city would not be destroyed if five righteous people were found there. The five righteous were not found. God sent two angels to that city to lead Lot and his family out. When they arrived at Lot’s house in the evening hours, all hell broke loose. Moses explains: “…all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house.”  They called out, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them” (Gen 19:4-5).

Clearly, we can understand why judgment was on its way for this city. This was a city where sexual violence had become routine. However, we are shocked by Lot’s response as he went outside and tried to talk to the mob: “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.  Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” (Gen 19:6-8).

Lot is extremely conflicted; while trying to protect the special guests, he places the safety of his family at risk. Perhaps he rationalized that nothing would be done to his daughters because they knew them and they were engaged to be married. Whatever he thought, it is appalling.

You might be thinking, “How could this man do this to his daughters?” Do not be so quick to judge! Today, parents are throwing their sons and daughters to the wolves by the abdication of their parental authority. Teenagers who are barely old enough to know the basics of life skills are becoming sexually active. They are doing so with the knowledge and, in some cases, the permission of their parents. The teenagers’ emotional intelligence is not capable of having a prolonged intimacy with another teenager, so it usually ends abruptly. The sense of rejection drives these adolescents to look for another and another. By the time they graduate, they have accumulated enough emotional baggage to wreck any future marriage. So, yes, many parents are doing just this, “Take my daughter or take my son and do what you want with them.”

Parents are throwing their kids to culture by allowing them to listen to violent music, especially rap. The lyrics of some rap music are so disgusting that it is repulsive, and yet teenagers are growing up on this vulgar and profane music. Its words glorify killing, sexual violence, and disrespect for life.

Parents are throwing them to culture by allowing them to watch any perverse thing they desire, whether that is video games, movies, or YouTube. The world has placed a cesspool of profane language, violent content, and sexually perverse material at your child’s fingertips. If you do not intervene, it will take over your child’s mind and damage their future life.

Parents are throwing their kids to the mob by allowing them to get involved in addicting social media. Programs such as Snapchat, Instagram, and others enable them to get involved emotionally with others at a very young age. They become consumed with their body and their appearance. This becomes a gateway to becoming sexually active at a young age. As parents who love their children, we have to be vigilant for their emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. There are many predators preying on our children, and we need God’s help to keep them safe.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Vision Sunday

In 1998, People’s Church faced an enormous trial of survival. The congregation found itself unable to meet its financial burdens because of a failed bond program. Marilyn and I were leading a Bible School in Cordoba, Argentina, when we received a call to come and lead them during this crisis. We pondered the request and sought God’s guidance and thought how ironic to return to the Church where we had served as youth pastors 23 years earlier. God had blessed us, and we found ourselves in a fruitful time of ministry in Argentina. However, we also realized that People’s Church had been an incredible partner with us in Argentina, so now would be our opportunity to help them. Although it was a difficult decision to leave Argentina, we accepted the challenge of leading the Church forward. People’s Church assumed a new mortgage of almost 1.6 million dollars as part of the solution. This new mountain of debt would take 21 years to pay off; we all wondered whether we could do it, but with God’s help, we began an arduous journey that ended in June of 2019.

The financial arrangement afforded us one year to plan for monthly payments. Our yearly income projection fell way short of making these monthly payments. In 1999, in preparation for our task, we created an account called The Joseph Fund; this fund became our strategy to prepare for these intimidating payments. Like the widow in First Kings, chapter four, all we had were empty vessels—we desperately needed God’s provision. We began raising revenue by selling everything we could, the singing Christmas tree, farming implements, a radio station, and of course, we gave weekly offerings.

About 10 years into the loan payments, we applied to another lender to get a lower interest rate. They answered, “You are too big of a risk,” so they denied our application. Although we may have looked too small and insignificant on paper to climb this mountain, God never gave up on us. He helped each step of the way—all the way to the top. This has been our financial strategy this last 20 years:

·         Keep missions front and center
·         Stay current in our financial obligations to everyone
·         Do not incur any more debt
·         Keep giving to the Joseph Fund each month
·         Keep everyone informed as to our progress

Our Vision Going Forward!

·         To invest money and resources into ministry to people
·         To implement effective ministries that reach our community
·         To continue to improve our facilities with needed renovations
·         To save for future projects
·         To increase our missions giving in greater capacity